Sunday, April 18, 2010

Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe Scores First Career Indy Lights Victory

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

An entree to the Sunday serving of IRL (indy Racing League) racing action at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Firestone Indy Lights Series warmed up the California street course. Capturing the first two races of the 2010 ladder series, Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Jean-Karl Vernay, the third round has yet to provide a challenge to the Frenchman. Sunday's Long Beach race for the Firestone Indy Lights Series would see the emergence as a potential season-long competitor.

Grabbing his second pole of the young season, 23-year old Oakville, Ontario, Canada driver James Hinchcliffe piloted his Team Moore Racing #2 car to a 1 minute, 14.6261 second lap time to claim the preferential position for the start. Previously scoring pole position at the opening Firestone Indy Lights round on the streets of St Petersburg ended with Hinchcliffe getting wrecked by Phillip Major through the race's first lap. In the Long Beach event, James Hinchcliffe avoided early race misfortune to lead flag-to-flag for his first victory in the Firestone Indy Lights in his second year of series competition.

With the race yellow flagged four times, the Hinchcliffe launched away from 2nd place finisher fellow Indy Lights tour sophomore Charlie Kimball driving for AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport. Jean-Karl Vernay missed his third-straight win of the season but retained a strong hold on the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights Series point standings. After three rounds, France's Vernay stands 28 markers over top of American driver Kimball in points.

With his previous best finish coming last year in the Mid-Ohio round, James Hinchcliffe completed his climb up the Firestone Indy Lights finishing roster. This top finish at Long Beach allows Hinchcliffe to be crowned the first Canadian driver to win in the IRL version of the open wheel support series since its formation in 2002.

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